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Kishida to retain foreign and defense ministers with eye on China

  • October 4, 2021
  • , Nikkei Asia , 1:34 a.m.
  • English Press

YUKIO TAJIMA and KAORU OSAWA, Nikkei staff writers

 

TOKYO — Japan’s presumptive prime minister, Fumio Kishida, has decided to retain the current defense minister in his new cabinet, keeping both the foreign policy and security chiefs in place to handle a rising China.

 

Kishida, scheduled to be elected prime minister in a special parliamentary session Monday, finalized his cabinet appointments Sunday night. He will also put a Harvard-educated lawmaker in charge of a newly created economic security post.

 

Both Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi will stay in the new cabinet, to be launched Monday. The reappointments send a message of continuation in Japan’s foreign and defense policy as the country faces difficult choices in confronting China’s rising military power and growing Beijing-Taipei tensions.

 

A coalition government between the ruling LDP and Komeito will be formed after swearing-in ceremonies Monday at the Imperial Palace. Kishida will hold his first news conference as prime minister.

 

Takayuki Kobayashi, a third-term lower house member who has been leading policy debates within the Liberal Democratic Party, will assume the post of economic security minister. Kobayashi is close to Akira Amari, who has been tapped to become the party’s secretary-general.

 

The economic security minister “should be able to give instructions to all ministries and agencies,” Amari said in a TV appearance Sunday. The appointment will let the cabinet work closely with the party on China policy.

Daishiro Yamagiwa will handle the nation’s pandemic response as economic and fiscal policy minister while Noriko Horiuchi will be put in charge of Coronavirus vaccinations. These are their first cabinet appointments.

 

Kishida on Sunday huddled with Hirokazu Matsuno, who has been tapped as chief cabinet secretary, and Seiji Kihara, who will be Matsuno’s deputy, to finalize his lineup. Takashi Shimada, who will become Kishida’s executive secretary in charge of political affairs, also joined the discussion.

 

The economy, trade and industry minister post will go to Koichi Hagiuda, the current education minister. Hagiuda, a member of the LDP’s Hosoda faction, is close to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

 

Shigeyuki Goto will gain his first cabinet post as health and labor minister. Shunichi Suzuki, a member of the Aso faction, will become finance minister.

 

Including Seiko Noda, who will become minister in charge of declining birthrate, Kishida is expected to appoint three women to his cabinet. Noda is the only one of Kishida’s three rivals in the LDP presidential election to receive a cabinet appointment.

 

Thirteen appointees are first-time ministers, accounting for 65% of the cabinet. The number is higher than the Suga cabinet’s five and the second Abe cabinet’s 10. This reflects Kishida’s pledge during the LDP presidential election to tap young talent within the party.

 

Kishida is considering dissolving the lower house, whose term expires at the end of this month, on Oct. 14, the last day of the special session. The general election will be held Nov. 7 or 14. 

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